Bulletin 11: 7 August 2016

The second booklet is now available…..

The first book, Heritage of the Powerhouse Museum Precinct dealt only with the buildings, and was well received. But many people pointed out that it told only part of the story, and many suggestions were made, which is incorporated into this new booklet.

Heritage of the Powerhouse Museum

It is a good non-specialist summary of the issues involved. I can say that without boasting, because its quality results from the input of many people. Most of these people, for various reasons, prefer to remain anonymous, but that does not alter the fact that this booklet is the outcome of input from a team of people whose education in relevant specialist areas totals well over 100 years and whose experience in relevant specialist areas totals well over a thousand years. See the one page summary at the end of this bulletin.

You can also read it online: it is now the first thing to be seen on www.lockoweb.com/phm .

Jamie Parker has offered to print 400 copies. His support has been magnificent: his office people printed 400 copies of the first booklet.

On Wednesday 17 August every state parliamentarian will receive a copy, with a personalised letter, asking them to examine the process thoroughly and to decide whether they want to be a part of it. This will involve 93 MLCs and 42 MLAs=135 copies.

Also as soon as practicable, copies will go to the PHM trustees, National Trust, Royal Historical Society and other similar people, about 50 copies.

This leaves about 200 copies, plus any that I can print with my trusty inkjet printer. If you would like a copy please email me. I will send a number of copies to media people, but they get bombarded with stuff and usually it is put in the circular file. However, one good story in major media is so valuable that it is worthwhile making the effort. If you know media people who will benefit, let me know and I will send copies to you.

So here is the one-page summary. Thanks to Pyrmont History Group who are co-operating with the distribution and using their letterhead for this purpose.

PYRMONT HISTORY GROUP

PO Box 301 Pyrmont NSW 2009
Heritage of the Powerhouse Museum: a one-page summary

In April we distributed a booklet entitled Heritage Aspects of the Powerhouse Museum Precinct, demonstrating the heritage values of the buildings. They are not fibro shacks that can be quickly bulldozed, but are beautifully built and must be preserved because of their quality and unique heritage value.

But an institution such as a museum is more than just buildings. Our new booklet deals with the total picture and demonstrates that the total operation must be preserved, that if it is moved from the present site its qualities will be severely diminished, and further, that the costing of the whole process is irrational.

1. The museum is of world standard: this is enhanced because of the qualities of the building. It is the most significant arts and sciences museum in Australia. Because of its national importance, it is more important to have it in a position that is easily accessible to the state, the nation and international visitors than to have it in the population centre of Sydney. Its present site is ideal.

In modern society, the synthesis of arts and sciences is essential to agile innovation, and the museum is well-placed to meet this need.

2. As well as being a great example of building skills the buildings remind us of the incredible feat of the construction of this, Australia’s first major power station, and the establishment of the tram line and tram service in a mere 25 months.

3. The museum is successor to a long process of development notably involving at the nearby Technological Museum, making many scientific, technological and artistic advances.

4. The museum is traditional home of many iconic exhibits, many with local relevance which will be lost in a relocation. Parramatta has its own proud history and deserves its own museum to reflect this.

5. The museum, both in terms of its 1988 buildings and as a symbol of Australia’s cultural development, is a powerful marker of Australia’s bicentenary. Many of the other buildings of the Darling Harbour precinct which marked the bicentenary have been demolished but this brilliant building conversion must be retained.

6. To trash such a remarkable cultural icon in its highly significant building is an act of barbarism that is unprecedented throughout the civilized peacetime world and would seriously damage our reputation as a cultured country.

7. The museum has an amazing human story. It also engenders great affection among many people because of its manifold qualities. If, despite all the facts that indicate that the museum should not be moved, the government goes ahead with its plans it must expect vigorous resistance and possibly direct action.

8. The project does not even have any economic benefit to the state. The bare site will not realise more than $250 million. It will cost about that much to demolish the buildings and to transfer the exhibits to Parramatta. In the process, the existing building (worth about $450 million) will be destroyed and to erect a new building of reasonable standard on the proposed Parramatta site will cost at least this amount. If the Powerhouse museum is retained, Parramatta can still have the museum it deserves and over half a billion dollars will be saved.

The idea of constructing a new museum at Parramatta has the full support of the Powerhouse Museum Alliance. It makes sense to establish a new facility, in the population centre of Sydney, to showcase modern Sydney’s culture. It makes no sense at all to destroy the Powerhouse in the process.

The government has stated that regardless of the outcome of the coming Legislative Council inquiry, the ‘move’ will occur. This is a denial of due process that will be vigorously opposed.

Tom Lockley, 4 August 2016